Immaculate Conception, but I don't like the negative vibe I'm feeling today, listening to some of the prayers and reflections today on Our Sweet Mary. It's all this "sinless perfection" language. I think it makes Mary untouchable, and even a bit un-human. I hope you're not offended. Stay with me!
I remember as a kid hearing the method for determining if you are an optimist or a pessimist. Look at a glass of water. Describe it. Is it half full, or half empty?
Maybe we should be talking about Our Lady as more grace-full than sin-less. It feels more optimistic and realistic. Talk of sinlessness and perfection can sound so... unreachable. I know Mary is immaculate (without stain) but I don't know if she ever spilled anything on her clothes. I bet she did. I almost hope so, in a weird way. One of my favorite scenes from the greatest film of all time, The Passion of the Christ, shows Mary, as a young mother, leaping up and spilling dinner in an attempt to catch a falling Christ (who also surely must have stumbled more than three times in his via dolorosa of toddlerhood). He became one of us "in all things, except sin" - and that all things encompasses a whole bunch of things, doesn't it?
We can trick ourselves in our defining of terms like perfect. Does it mean that everything a perfect person does is flawless? They never burp, blunder, or bite off more spaghetti than they can chew? No awkwardly loud sneezes? That occassional snort in the middle of a really good laugh? Does it mean they sort of float around never touching the earth, that they are perpetually solemn, always using perfect punctuation, dotting their i's and crossing their t's?
Hmmm. I like to think of Mary as full of grace, always YES, loving and serving, open-eyed and receiving Love as it tumbled down from the Heavens towards her with as much passion as the Passion of a Good Friday. I don't like thinking of Mary as just "sinless." That's like looking at celibacy and saying "Oh, that means you can't have sex." Well, yes, but what can you have? God. Love. Union with not just one but every heart fashioned in the image of God, and the Universe as a present from a Loving and Divine Spouse to boot! How's that grab ya?
Mary's Immaculate Conception means, ultimately, that in her, God gave us a fresh start; a new beginning, a New Eve to be the Mother of All the Living Children, washed clean in the waters of Baptism. She was fully human, fully alive, all woman, and the joyful cry of her Magnificat speaks volumes about her exuberant spirit and radical passion for the Living God. There's nothing stoic, disincarnate, or stuffy there! In fact, in her heart, I'd dare to say there is an overflowing excess of love.
Oh Mary, give us a taste of that Fullness you received, into your very body! Open us up to the wonders of His Passion for us! Make us hungry for this Fullness! For the hungry He fills with good things, and the rich He sends away empty.
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